Wildlife

Wildlife (6)

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Click Here for Clearwater Road Closure Survey, Please read the Breif History before completing the Survey.

EITW Matheny Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project

Here is a brief update on the Matheny Pre-commercial thinning Habitat Project.

Twelve hardy souls ventured into the thick of the Olympic Rain Forest to tackle tons of slash piled deep. Their purpose was to open the ground to access for the wildlife of the forest and allow for some of their favorite food plants to flourish.

Three of our trained sawyers; Kyle Winton, Frank Stinchfield, and Jack Smith led crews of swampers in piling approximately 40 new habitat piles and clearing several acres of prime potential habitat for our wildlife friends. We worked in stand 3.2 miles to the west of the areas previously piled by WCC and RMEF crews, within the area allowed under the spotted owl and murrelet restrictions. Maps of the restricted areas were provided by Betsy Howell, the USFS biologist supervising the project.

 

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EITW Game Check Stations

The Eyes In The Woods Association Inc. (EITW), working with WDFW Regions 6 & 5 Staff have a 12+ year successful history of conducting volunteer biological data-gathering check stations; now a component of the EITW Property Watch Land Access program, check stations can serve several purposes.

 

This project is In accordance with the “Olympic” & “Mt. St. Helens” wildlife management plans; WDFW Wildlife Management has requested that we increase our check station efforts with the addition of projects in Region 3. This requires an estimated 1,373 volunteer man-days over the 2009-2011 hunting seasons.

 

Volunteer Participation

EITW Volunteer’s efforts include; attend trainings, signup for one or more dates/locations, travel to/from site (some volunteers camp in remote sites for days), station setup at 7:00 am (i.e. setup shelters, tables, tissue sample jars/containers & forms, road signs, traffic safety cones, etc.), collect data from hunters and their harvested game, clean & sterilize equipment, inventory, teardown, cleanup, and the completion of required WDFW & EITW forms. Note: (Remote sites may only see a handful of hunters and a couple of animal’s per-weekend, in comparison to the 1200+ hunters and 100+ animals at the Vail Tree Farm site.)

 

Volunteer Training Requirements

nWorking with WDFW Staff, we developed a comprehensive Check Station Training for volunteers. Citizens receive ;

¨WDFW Volunteer Orientation

¨WDFW Safety & conduct procedures

¨Extraction wildlife DNA & Chronic Wasting Disease samples

¨Documentation of hunter and harvest data

¨Aging of deer, elk, and other specific wildlife data.

¨State-band Radio Protocols

 

We will be posting Check Station training dates and check station sign-up information on our calendar.

 

Contat the Wildlife Director for more Information:

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N.E. Olympic Roosevelt Elk Project

Project Summary:

EITW has a 10+ year history of assisting WDFW Region-6 Wildlife Management. This collaborative project will assist the WDFW, and Pt No Pt/Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe with re-establishing the Dungeness elk into the historic range and to encourage expanded occupancy of the elk into suitable habitat (Out of Sequim) within Northeast Olympic Peninsula.

The Benefits to Wildlife:

The Roosevelt elk population within the entire Northeast portion of Olympic Peninsula is limited to one herd that resides in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. This population used to occupy the foothills of the Dungeness Watershed and beyond, including a home range that extended into the mountainous alpine habitats during the summer and fall. Due to land use patterns (reduction of timber harvest in the foothills on Forest Service land, increased ORV use on DNR lands, residential development in key travel corridors) and elk discovering nutritious forage on lowland agricultural lands; these elk have shifted their home range to the Sequim vicinity and remain there year around. This elk herd has now become well known for the damage that it is causing on agricultural lands and residential neighborhoods and the safety hazards the elk can cause when crossing Highway 101.

   

The agricultural lands that elk are causing damage on presently are at risk if the farmers can’t rely on successful crops. Farmers often resort to subdivision of their properties when they can’t make a profit farming. Other wildlife such as waterfowl including trumpeter swans depend on these open space farmlands during the winter. Clallam County planning and zoning hasn’t precluded the options for landowners to subdivide agricultural fields into considerably smaller acreages that often are not managed in a way to benefit these wintering wildlife populations.

 

See the EITW Calendar for Training Dates: (Starting in March, 2010)

 

Project Scope:

Step 1- Recruit & Certify EITW Volunteers

Step 2- Will be to test the feasibility of using GPS collars with the "virtual fence" capability. Three elk will be fitted with GPS-Virtual Fence collars. The data download capability of these collars provides real-time location information as well as an alert function when collared elk cross an identified mapped boundary.

Step 3- Testing this GPS collar function will be done in conjunction with a trial hazing program to deter elk from their pattern of using the suburban and agricultural lands north of Highway 101.

Step 4- The GPS collars will collect location data day and night (without requiring volunteers/staff to be in the field 24/7). This data will be used to assess elk movement patterns and travel corridors when they are shifting from the foothills to the lower elevation agriculture/suburban lands.

Step 5- These efforts will provide key information to plan a long-term solution to keep elk in the foothills that would likely include hazing and short segments of fencing in the elk’s primary travel corridors.

 

Spin off projects/benefits include:

Highway elk signage system - Ongoing functioning of the Highway elk signage system (alerting drivers that elk are in the vicinity).

More EITW volunteers to provide information on elk use (or lack of it) in the foothills, backcountry and alpine habitats.

Networking with landowners near the foothills that could be involved in providing a land base for forage habitat enhancement projects. Assisting farmers with repairing fence damage caused by the elk and building elk friendly fences (to allow elk on fields where other uses exist like livestock but avoid fence damage by elk).

An educational element for local school district students and Peninsula College students.

A trial test of a real-time Watchable Wildlife program where the public could check a website to find out if and where the elk can be observed.

 

EITW Volunteer Participation:

We have a local group of EITW Volunteers that have been very involved in many activities associated with the Dungeness elk. They have assisted with elk captures for collaring, forage seeding of DNR clear-cut’s, assisting with the permit damage hunts, and ongoing monitoring of the elk herd. The WDFW Biologists have frequently consulted with EITW Volunteers about the elk to supplement their knowledge about the herd. These local EITW Volunteers will be the hub of which we will build from to establish a larger EITW Volunteer group to be available for this project.

 

 

Volunteer Training Requirements:

All EITW/WDFW Volunteers must attend the “Volunteer Orientation/project training” and “Capture Assistance / Hazing” classes; it is also recommended that volunteers attend the EITW Crime Observation & Reporting Training. Key volunteers will be invited to attend the “Telemetry Tracking” class.

 

Following are the tasks that will be conducted involving EITW Volunteers.

1) Locating and monitoring elk for collaring operation opportunities.

2) Elk capture (ground) and collaring of 3 elk with GPS radios plus collaring of 2 elk with conventional radio telemetry collars; Captures will be conducted by ground darting or using Corral trap methods.

3) Monitoring elk with GPS collars and conventional radio telemetry collars: Conducting field monitoring of elk with collars. Reporting monitoring efforts and results.

4) Trial Hazing: Trial will include establishing a team of volunteers to be assigned on call status. When elk are crossing the Virtual Fence zone the team will be called on duty to attempt hazing elk away from the designated area.

5) Searching for elk sign on DNR, Forest Service and Olympic National Park ownerships. DNR, Forest Service and Olympic National Park provide a land base in the Dungeness Watershed that has been utilized by elk decades ago. If the elk population increases and breaks up into several core herds we would expect the elk to reestablish some movement patterns into these ownerships. Historically there were herds that migrated into alpine habitats during the summer. There is a trend of fewer herds on the Olympic Peninsula that demonstrate this migrational pattern. Managers benefit from observations and knowledge gained by citizens backcountry experiences. This is an opportunity where volunteers are encouraged to contribute.

6) Participation with high school and Peninsula college students (e.g. Local school districts are establishing Natural Resource Classes that could include a Dungeness Elk component; Assist teachers with field trips; Learning GPS and GIS applications and providing support for teachers; Demonstrating radio telemetry monitoring; Mentoring Senior High School students with culminating projects associated with Dungeness elk; Assisting students with writing progress reports and articles for media; Assist students with public presentations on project); It's hard to know who would learn the most, the students learning from the volunteers or the volunteers learning from the students.

7) Set up trial Elk Viewing Location Website where the public could find out where the current elk viewing opportunities are and how to get there; Establish specifics regarding when and where elk viewing opportunities will be reported to assure traffic safety and to not compromise management tools (e.g. only display viewing opportunities where there are not risks oftraffic accidents or traffic jams; do not activate viewing opportunities during the hunting season to avoid conflicts with harvest goals); Develop a network of persons -volunteers or tour business entrepreneurs- that could be called on for mini tours including educational component; Identify areas where parking pullouts are needed for elk viewing and traffic safety; Produce notices that specify safe elk viewing practices-available as brochures and signage.

8) Being active in working with agencies that make land use decisions. City of Sequim, Clallam County, DNR and DOT are four key agencies that are influencing the long term management of elk in the Dungeness Watershed. City of Sequim and Clallam County have allowed development to encroach into main movement corridors for the elk herd, compounding the impacts to the landowners North of Highway 101. DOT was encouraged to use elk fence specs for the Sequim Bypass fencing, but chose to install fencing that does not deter elk crossing. DNR is in the process of adopting their Burnt Hill Recreational Plan, with no system in place to manage the recreational vehicle disturbance that would displace elk from this traditional habitat area. Volunteers could develop a draft strategy for the DNR ownership with a flexible footprint of open and closed trails/roads using best science collected by GPS radioed elk. This plan would need to adopt options that minimize costs to DNR, and assure compliance by recreational users.

 

The Habitat Component:

This project includes several habitat components. The networking of EITW Volunteers with key landowners should help establish a cooperative relationship with local landowners. This could lead to creation of elk forage opportunities on open fields near the forested foothills. Also DNR is actively managing the forestlands in the vicinity with recent clear-cut’s and timber harvest planned in a key location in the foothills. This will be a great opportunity for EITW Volunteers to work with DNR to manage these clearings favorable to elk.

 

The Project Goals:

The WDFW has a goal to shift the Sequim-Dungeness elk herd’s home range back into the foothills of the Dungeness Watershed and beyond. This goal has not been achieved with over 15-years of effort. New techniques are necessary to achieve this goal. This project provides some innovative techniques to the management of this herd: we anticipate they will prove successful at achieving this goal, yet remain affordable during these troubling economic times.

 

The Roosevelt elk population within the entire Northeast portion of Olympic Peninsula is limited to one herd that resides in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. This population used to occupy the foothills of the Dungeness Watershed and beyond, including a home range that extended into the mountainous alpine habitats during the summer and fall. Due to land use patterns (reduction of timber harvest in the foothills on Forest Service land, increased ORV use on DNR lands, residential development in key travel corridors) and elk discovering nutritious forage on lowland agricultural lands these elk have shifted their home range to the Sequim vicinity and remain there year around. This elk herd has now become well known for the damage that it is causing on agricultural lands and residential neighborhoods and the safety hazards the elk can cause when crossing Highway 101.

 

WDFW’s proposal to relocate this herd away from this watershed several years ago was not well received by the local citizens. Ultimately relocation or removal of this elk herd would leave a large gap of unoccupied habitat on the Olympic Peninsula leaving 40 miles of mountainous habitat between herds. Even with the current use patterns of the Sequim-Dungeness Elk the population is becoming more and more isolated from the nearest herds to the southeast (Dosewallips elk about 30 miles away) and to the west (Elwha elk about 25 miles away). This herd is key in reestablishing elk throughout northeastern Olympic Peninsula.

 

Reduction of elk damage on key agricultural lands and suburban neighborhoods:

Achieving the goal of shifting the elk onto the foothill habitats would result in reducing elk damage on key agricultural lands and reduce elk damage in residential areas. This herd is relying on the local agricultural fields for their foraging needs, causing serious damage to the local farmers crops. This foraging pattern is ultimately risking the farmers’ ability to run their businesses. Fencing of these properties has been suggested, but would most certainly cause the elk to shift their pattern to the nearby golf course and organic produce farmland where they would cause even more damage.

 

Maintain a Viable Herd and accommodate a Sustainable Annual Harvest:

It has been a challenge for WDFW to keep the herd small enough to keep the damage issues in check, yet keep the elk in high enough numbers to maintain a viable herd that could repopulate Northeastern Olympic Peninsula. Until the elk shift their home range it is critical that the numbers are kept below 100 or the damage would be “over the top”, yet it is important to keep the numbers above 50 to maintain a viable herd. Each year WDFW has a controlled permit “damage” hunt with an extended season, a tool WDFW has been using to keep the herd number tolerable for most landowners. WDFW is only able to offer this hunt because of dedicated Eyes in the Woods Volunteers that assist with this program to keep the hunt safe and to divert those who are out to sabotage the hunt. This elk herd is rarely available to hunters during the permit season because they utilize private lands with no public access. Only one landowner in this area is allowing permit hunters to harvest elk on their property. Other landowners within the elk herd home range have chosen not to allow hunting on their property due to the vocal locals that put pressure on them not to allow hunting of the elk. Our project will aid in developing a solution to manage these elk in more suitable habitats that should result in an expanded elk population that would be available to both state and tribal hunters.

 

An Affordable Solution:

After many public meetings over several years WDFW decision makers chose to pursue placing a multi-mile elk fence near the foothills to restrict the elk from using key suburban/agricultural lands and keep the elk south of Highway 101 for safety reasons. Unfortunately the expense for this endeavor would be multi millions of dollars. The fence project appears stalled in the planning stage due to budget crises and is not likely to be reconsidered. The local governmental entities including City of Sequim, Clallam County and DNR have tasked WDFW to solve the elk damage and safety issues even though much of the reason the elk have shifted their home range has been due to land use decisions made by these agencies’ staff. WDFW has provided recommendations to these agencies for over 15-years to accommodate the elk but these recommendations were not heeded. Many of the land use decisions are irreversible thus leaving WDFW with few if any feasible options. Our project will assist WDFW in coming up with a much more affordable solution for management of these elk.

 

 

The anticipated public benefits that will result from the implementation of this project.

1.Developing an affordable option for managing the Sequim-Dungeness elk, that ultimately would result in higher numbers of elk in forestland habitats of Northeastern Olympic Peninsula. By using new technology we could establish affordable solutions to guiding the home range of the present elk herd towards the foothills and away from the high-density residential areas and their neighboring agricultural lands.

2.Continued operation of Highway signage: Putting on 5-new collars will allow the ongoing functioning of the Highway 101 elk signage that is triggered to flash when the elk are in the near vicinity.

3.Retain a watchable wildlife component of the Sequim-Dungeness elk to benefit the local community by providing recreational viewing for both locals and tourists.

4.Working towards solutions that should establish an elk population that would be available to both State and Tribal hunters.

5.Building of cooperative projects to alleviate the likely shift of elk damage to areas near the foothills. EITW Volunteers, WDFW and Pt No Pt Tribal staff will begin coordinating with landowners that will likely have increased elk activity on their properties if the elk shift their home range.

 

 

 

 

 

EITW Wildlife Program

 EITW Wildlife Program Director

Jack Smith

Summary Statement:

EITW volunteers have over a decade of assisting Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Region-6 Wildlife Management with wildlife studies. These include participation in the “Roosevelt Elk Mortality Study”, deer and elk herd composition surveys, range and forage studies, animal captures and translocations. We continue to conduct Game Check Stations in Region-6 study areas; collecting DNA and Chronic Wasting Disease samples, hunter and wildlife data.

We work closely with WDFW personnel to locate areas of needed assistance, develop the trainings required, educate and organize the volunteer resources required for each project. Listed below are the current projects available; Keep checking the EITW Calendar for projects and trainings as they are developed and funded.

 

We need dedicated volunteers in leadership / project manager positions. For us to expand and develop more volunteer opportunities.

 

Wildlife Program Projects:        Note: Program pages are under construction currently; only the underlined links are active.

Biological Game Check Stations:

ü Weyco Vail Tree Farm Main Gate

ü Williams Creek GMU Study Area

Region-6 Wildlife Study Projects – (Funded by ALEA Grants)

ü NE Olympic Peninsula Roosevelt Elk Project

ü Anderson Homestead Enhancement Project

 

GMU Border Posting – (Not funded at this time)

ü GMU Project Status

Program History:

Deer Hair Slip Syndrome

      ü Check Stations

ü Wildlife Studies

ü Activity Reports

 

 

EITW “Supporting Member” volunteers’ that assist in project management or general activities like Game Check Stations and GMU Boundary posting projects, become eligible to participate in the special projects requiring a limited amount of highly trained and dedicated volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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